I think all kids like to get mail. It helps asserts individual identity amongst siblings and allows a child to enter into an otherwise adult domain (I wasn’t so delighted to get my first bills). The earliest mail I got was postcards.
Even before I could read, I loved the images of exotic locations, places more exciting then my dreary school. Cards from Europe, Asia, or Caribbean were windows of far-flung adventures. When I learned how to read, I loved reading the messages that were a snapshot of not only the place, but also of the person and time. Some are evocative stories in miniature.
Image from the Whitney Museum, What is a Collection.
As my collection grew, I organized them by country. The act of organizing in itself became a pleasure as subcategories were set up for city or attraction and then all were sorted chronologically. I enjoyed displaying my new cards on my corkboard, but even more I enjoyed filing them away. Adding a new tab to categorize a new country was elation. I rarely get to add top-level tabs nowadays. Receiving a card from Aland caused the thrill to return; although, it raised the problem of how to categorize semi-autonomous countries (I’m sure the UN shares my pain in this regard.).
I inherited my great-grandfather’s collection of postcards. A lot of the cards were sent to my great-grandmother when my great-grandfather was stationed in England during World War 1. The messages on the back provide snapshots to world history and my family history. But a lot of postcards in his collection are so old and odd that I have no idea where or when they are from. More recently, I inherited my grandmother-in-law’s postcards – which are in German and cursive, so really difficult to discern. I’m looking forward to posting these cards with their histories, nostalgia, oddities, and mysteries galore.
As a teenager I began travelling on my own. I would buy postcards from museums and art galleries to help remember artwork I enjoyed. These cards then raised the problem of how to organize. Perhaps my love of digital organization derived from my frustration that physical objects can only be located, and thus categorized, in one place. Occasionally, I would pull cards out of their geographical order to set up new orders based on artists, degree of tackiness, or boredom. Geographical order, however, ultimately wins out for utility’s sake. This blog offers new abilities to organize and present my collection in novel and multiple ways, such as through the use of tags.
I have had other interests and objects that encouraged my love of communications, organization, and geography. But postcards are the only complete encapsulation of these passions – and one of the only activities began in childhood that I continue (my comic book collection mildews in my dad’s basement and I finally significantly downsized my sock and salt & pepper collections).
Until recently, I was only able to share my postcard collection and love of postcards with my family. One of the proudest days of my life is when my young daughter was working on an Organization badge for Brownies. She wanted to organize her postcard collection with me and we spent a fun-filled day coming up with organization schemes. I loved how she devised cool categories that reflect her – such as postcards with animals, comics, shiny ones, etc. My wife has been supportive of my habit. As a true sign of her devotion, she spent one of our few days in Prague with me at their postcard museum.
But now through this blog, I have the opportunity to share the many things I love about my postcard collection.